Jubilee+ Research Team
Impact of initiatives for older people

“Whilst old age is a clear cause for celebration, it is also crucial to recognise that Britain’s rapidly ageing society offers a number of serious short and long term challenges…”

These challenges are particularly reflected in our projected demographic pattern – by the year 2024 one in five people will be of pensionable age. While there is a clear role for Government, and a clear role for charities, there is no substitute for community. Issues of housing, finance, care, social isolation and loneliness are huge areas of challenge for many of those in older years, and the Government cannot tackle them alone.

Poverty in the older years can be traced to being affected by poverty earlier in life and exacerbated by age-related issues. The Centre for Social Justice outlines four key indicators to help clarify the issues affecting the poorest older people – money, housing, loneliness and social exclusion.

AgeUK2 states the following:

• For the first time in history, there are 11 million people aged 65 or over in the UK;
• 3.8 million of those aged 65+ live alone;
• It is predicted that by 2041 there will be a shortfall of 250,000 intense carers;
• Latest estimates suggest 1.3 million people over 65 suffer from malnutrition, and the vast majority (93%) live in the community.

What is the Church doing?

Care for older people (in different forms) is one of the most common ways in which churches engage with their communities. Our 2012 and 2014 surveys of UK churches showed that elderly care initiatives are the 6th most common type of social action initiatives they run. In 2010, it was the 3rd most common. Caring for the elderly was also ranked 3rd in 2014 and 8th in 2012 by church leaders as an initiative that had a positive effect on church growth.

Public and voluntary services both have a part to play. The state provides a policy framework with both educational and social outcome goals. However, public funding and local government organisational reach only extend so far. Therefore the Church, as a body of people committed to long-term engagement in support of social justice, has a role to play that goes well beyond engagement with people on a religious or spiritual agenda. Christians who run church-based groups do so with a faith-based motivation, but they are looking to have a very broad range of outcomes.

Church-based elderly care initiatives will be of increasing importance given the changing nature and needs of our society...

To read the rest of the Research Report into the impact of Church-based initiatives for older people, including our recommendations, click here.